October 17, 2012

Back To The Future

We launched MBF Trend Consulting in 2001 with offices in Berlin, Germany, established ourselves in Europe, and took MBF to New York in 2005. Since we launched, the industry has experienced tremendous change.

Initially our business focused on providing trend direction – colors, silhouettes and fabrics. Incredible as it may seem, in those days the global markets were not that integrated or connected. Still, we always provided seasonal information from major fashion centers to include New York, Paris and Milano.

If we fast-forward to today – that is October of 2012 (haha)…We now filter and consolidate information from markets in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.

When and how did you decide to pursue a career in fashion, and more specifically, trend consulting? 

Manuela: I was always passionate about fashion. I studied fashion design at Parson’s. After graduating, I worked as designer – first as an assistant at a little shop in New York basically cutting fabrics. Then I moved to Madrid (Spain), where I had my own, very little, studio designing one-of-kind of pieces. That was a lot of fun and I met many of Spain’s – at that time – up-and-coming designers. A few years later I was back in the United States when I started working as a fashion stylist for photo shoots. The work took me around the world – Australia, South Africa, Europe, Latin America. The experience allowed me to see fashion from a different perspective and eventually led to coursework in textile and surface design – at F.I.T. After presenting a project I had worked on that focused on Masaai culture and beadwork, my professor suggested I consider trend and design consulting. And the rest as they say is history.

What kind of experience and preparation helped you most when founding the company? 

Manuela: My experiences both as a designer and a stylist have been key. In conjunction with the exposure I had to different environments – having to adapt quickly to local settings, working with people I had just met from all walks, working on fashion editorials, catalogues, advertising, record labels… All of this has been key to helping me develop an eye and a sensibility for currents that influence trends – to quickly grasp trends as they evolve, connect the dots and translate them to the apparel industry. Add this to an incredibly talented team we have here at MBF and I think this is the formula for success. It’s a collaborative process and a team effort.

What, exactly, does a trend consulting company do? 

Manuela: Our work entails a lot of different aspects- the objective is to connect the dots resulting in profitable collections/brands. Research is an on-going process – we filter information and data, analyse it and translate to our products and services to include – market strategies, trend forecasting, design consulting and sustainability consulting as well elements/components of social media. And then of course, we’re always looking for better ways of sharing information – not only with our clients, but with our colleagues, students and other industry professionals. With this thought in mind, in July we successfully launched the first mbfSALON™ at Kingpins NY. We have now traveled this to Philadelphia University and are now in discussions to take the Salon international.

For you, what part of this job is most satisfying? 

Manuela: What I really love about this job is that we are working in a very fast ever-changing environment. We have a very short turn around time from analysing our research to passing it on in the right format to our clients. Once that is done we move on. It never gets boring and it's pretty much instant gratification. We get to work on different projects all the time.

What part of this job is most challenging for you? 

Manuela: I think the most demanding part is continuously challenging ourselves to think outside the box and get out of our comfort zones. We have to determine where things are going and we have to revisit things from a different point of view in order to make the right assessment of where things are going and how trends will evolve.

On another note, where do you see the future of fashion going? 

Manuela: Technology and sustainability will continue to be major drivers for all industries including fashion. Being able to understand, analyse and repurpose data will be key. And the impact of digital media is growing exponentially. The question will be how will we correlate this vast amount of data being generated, review and turn it into something that contributes to our growth, to a better understanding of our customers, and their needs, ultimately resulting in a better product. Also, digital media will continue to impact how we approach the shopping experience. We will continue to see the growth of curated collections. Retail centers will become showrooms and shopping malls will be reinvented as they focus on the “complete” experience. And we have not even scratched the surface yet with advertising.

And there we are…Although this certainly won’t impact the future of fashion, most importantly for me, has been the continued support of our clients, professional colleagues, friends and family. And of course, my wonderful team at MBF. All of whom have played an important role in our presence here today. We look forward to continuing this wonderful journey, the places we will go and the experiences we will share.

1 comment:

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MBF Trend Talk by MBF Trend Consulting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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